New Delhi: The AAP Monday released a video showing a BJP leader offering money to one of its legislators, inducing him to quit the assembly to improve the BJP's chances of forming a government in Delhi.
The grainy video shot covertly shows Delhi unit vice-president Sher Singh Dagar making the bribe offer to AAP's Dinesh Mohaniya if he resigned so as to bring down the effective strength of the hung Delhi assembly.
Dagar made an angry rebuttal to the disclosure but no party leader came to his defence and the party sought to distance itself from the incident and sought an explanation from him.
Aam Aadmi Party sources told IANS that they released the video in a bid to prevent Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung from inviting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to try forming a government in Delhi although it lacks legislative majority.
In the video, played at a press conference addressed by AAP leader and former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Dagar is seen exhorting Mohaniya to resign from the AAP and promising him money if he did so.
"Char le lena (Take four)," Dagar is heard saying. Kejriwal said "char" stood for Rs.4 crore. Dagar also says in the video that after accepting a "token amount", Mohaniya won't be allowed to go anywhere until the floor test is taken in the Delhi assembly.
Dagar is also heard claiming that some other legislators, including three from the AAP, were ready to resign too.
The BJP now has 28 members in the 70-seat Delhi legislature after three got elected to the Lok Sabha. The AAP has 27 members and the Congress only eight. There are four other members in the house.
According to the AAP, the BJP is inducing rival members to resign from the assembly so as to bring down its effective strength. This will make it easy for the BJP to muster a legislative majority.
Speaking in his usual assertive tone, Kejriwal vowed not to let the BJP take power in Delhi with deceitful tactics.
"The BJP has been wooing our MLAs for the last one month, but we will not let them come to power... They are betraying the people of Delhi," he said. "The BJP's dirty game is exposed today."
The BJP criticised the video but made no effort to defend Dagar.
"They (AAP) have been doing this for long. Earlier they made allegations against (now central minister) Nitin Gadkari ... and now again they are attacking us. This is an attempt to defame the party," BJP leader Vijender Gupta said.
But Gupta quickly added: "Even if Dagar interacted with the (AAP) MLA, it was in his personal capacity and not as a leader of the BJP."
BJP national secretary R.P. Singh advised Dagar to resign from the party post till proven innocent.
"I think he should resign from the party till the matter is investigated," Singh told IANS.
Dagar denied he was trying to bribe anyone and insisted that the AAP legislator had come to see him at his residence saying he wished to join the BJP.
"He came to me 45 days ago and even yesterday (Sunday)... He wanted to join our party," Dagar said. He claimed he had never done any wrong.
Dagar had initially called a press conference at the party office but the venue was shifted to his home in south Delhi. No reasons were given. No BJP leader was with him at the presser.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra, who was to join Dagar at his press conference Monday afternoon, never showed up. Dagar was then served a show cause notice in the evening.
"BJP Delhi president Satish Upadhyay has sought an explanation from party vice president Sher Singh Dagar on the basis of media reports indicating his involvement over his involvement in talks with an AAP MLA," a party statement said.
"The BJP does not believe in manipulation or dealings and the party does not approve of such activities in any form," it added.
Asserted Kejriwal, who resigned as chief minister Feb 14 after ruling Delhi for 49 days: "Our MLAs are being offered chairmanships, ministerial berths and money but none of them will defect."
He said more such videos would be released "at an appropriate time".
AAP leader Manish Sisodia said the video would be submitted in the Supreme Court and a formal complaint against the BJP would be lodged with the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the Congress also urged the apex court to take cognizance of the matter and order fresh elections in Delhi.